DEAR ABBY: I came to this country 30 years ago, at 16. My parents were very abusive and neglectful, so my uncle in the U.S. took me in. I have worked with therapists, and my mind is clear about my past.
I now have a 14-year-old daughter. I do not speak to her in my native language. It is not very good at expressing love and caring, and has more emphasis on strict hierarchy and obedience.
There are many things I cannot convey in my native language. One must understand the huge cultural difference between my native country and the U.S. In addition, I do not want to force my daughter to learn something because someone other than her insisted. I prefer to spend my resources helping her learn something she is interested in.
If she says she wants to learn my native language, I'll teach her. So far, she has shown no interest. My friends criticize me for not teaching it to her. I'm bothered by their insistence that I'm robbing my daughter of the opportunity to learn it. How do I tell them it is none of their business? -- READER IN HAWAII
DEAR READER: Your daughter may not have asked to learn your native language because it hasn't occurred to her that it might one day be a valuable asset. I do think you should offer to teach it to her if she's interested in knowing more about the culture that shaped her mother, because her answer might surprise you.
That said, because your friends' comments bother you, tell them that because you don't tell them how to raise their children, you prefer they not tell you how to raise yours.
DEAR ABBY: I have a unique problem, and if it isn't resolved, I'm afraid my marriage is going to end in divorce. Ten years ago, at my brother-in-law's wedding, I was left in charge of the bar. I got drunk and made a fool of myself. This included overtly flirting with one of the bridesmaids. I'm incredibly sorry about the embarrassment it caused my wife.
Fast-forward to today: My wife has accused me of inappropriate behavior and hundreds of affairs that never happened. I have been faithful to her since we started dating. She goes through my business phone and accuses me and my professional contacts of sexual behavior. I have offered to take a polygraph exam, but she continues to accuse me of infidelity. I'm at my wits' end, and marriage counseling isn't an option. -- NOT FOOLING AROUND IN MAINE
DEAR NOT FOOLING: Marriage counseling may not be an option for you and your wife, but YOU should definitely consult a licensed psychotherapist. Something is not right with your wife. Is it possible that the wedding incident so severely unbalanced her that she has never recovered?
What you have described is a miserable existence for both of you. That it has gone unresolved for a decade is tragic. Where you need to go from here I cannot decide for you, but a therapist may be able to guide you.
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